Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Sun and Steel

Sun, steel, Iron Maiden and a nice and cold saké-infused beer. What else do you need in life?

“Sunlight, falling on your steel,
Death in life is your ideal,
Life is like a wheel, rolling on and on.”

Let’s celebrate the news of another round of the superb Legacy of the Beast Tour by the one and only Iron Maiden, which will conquer pretty much the entire world except for the Americas in 2020, with a review of Sun and Steel, the sixth beer from the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson together with Robinsons Brewery. And let me tell you that after having tried the original Trooper Beer, the amazing Hallowed, and now Sun and Steel, I must admit this saké lager by Mr. Bruce Dickinson is in my opinion the one with the best taste, aftertaste, freshness and punch. I still have to try the other Iron Maiden beers I haven’t found yet such as Trooper Red ‘N’ Black, of course, but I doubt those will be as good as Sun and Steel. And do you want to know why?

Sun and Steel is the first lager in the Trooper range and is one of the most complex beers that Robinsons Brewery has ever produced, a double fermented lager created with authentic Japanese saké yeast. The idea for the beer, designed once again by the one and only Mr. Bruce Dickinson along with Robinsons’ Head Brewer Martyn Weeks, was first conceived during the autumn of 2016 following a meeting between Bruce and a friend of the band and long-time Iron Maiden fan George Yusa, owner of the 300-year old family run Okunomatsu Saké Brewery in Fukushima, Japan. Bruce became intrigued with the idea of putting the two flavor profiles together, and thus Sun and Steel was born. George was able to deliver a sample of the saké yeast to Iron Maiden’s 2017 concert at London’s O2 Arena, which Bruce took up to Robinsons Brewery. Having obtained permission from the Japanese government to brew with it, Martyn and the team had carefully cultivated the strain ever since. “This has been such an exciting project. I had a crazy idea to try and make a saké infused lager and over two and a half years later, here we are! I know Martyn and the team at Robinsons have had to become mad scientists to make this work but the end result is a really unique hybrid beer that tastes fantastic. Trooper fans have been asking for a lager, and here it is. I bet you would never have guessed we would do it like this though,” commented Bruce about his newborn “baby”.

Needless to say, if you’re a diehard Maidenmaniac you already know Sun and Steel takes its designation from the Iron Maiden song of the same name that appears on their 1983 masterpiece Piece Of Mind, which was in turn inspired by the life of Japanese Samurai Miyamoto Musashi, hence the idea of uniting a lager yeast, for the initial fermentation, with a saké yeast, as saké is Japan’s national beverage,  for a second fermentation. The result is a crisp and refreshing 4.8% double-fermented, saké-infused pilsner style lager with a flash of honey and fruit that will please from the most demanding beer connoisseur to the average social beer drinker, showing how much effort Bruce and Martyn put into brewing such delicious beer. Of pale yellow color, gooseberry and honey lychee smell, and smooth and delicate taste, Sun and Steel is not too sweet nor too bitter, being the perfect beer for the winter while we all wait for the Legacy of the Beast Tour to kick off in 2020, or for the hot and sunny days of summer when Bruce, Steve & Co. will take several cities and countries all over the world by storm with their unparalleled live performances. For instance, you can find Sun and Steel on sale at selected LCBO stores if you live in Canada for 2.85 Canadian Dollars each 500ml can, at several other importers from all over the world, or simply go to the Robinsons Brewery official website to grab 12 bottles of 330ml each for £20. Having said that, what are you waiting for to purchase a few cans or bottles of Sun and Steel and enjoy them while listening to the song Sun and Steel itself and all other Iron Maiden classics we all love so much? UP THE IRONS AND… KANPAI!

Beer details
Country: England
Brewer: Robinsons Brewery
Style: Saké Lager
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.8%
Color: Pale yellow
Smell: Gooseberry, honey lychee
Taste: Smooth, complex and delicate
Sweetness: 3 out of 5
Bitterness: 2 out of 5
Contains: Malted barley and wheat

Beverage Review – Megadeth’s À Tout Le Monde Beer

A superb beer that tastes smooth and fresh without losing the core punch and energy of a good brew, just like its beyond-classic eponymous Heavy Metal ballad.

“À tout le monde, à tous mes amis
Je vous aime, je dois partir
These are the last words I’ll ever speak
And they’ll set me free”

À Tout Le Monde, which gained a revamped version titled À Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) in 2007 featuring Cristina Scabbia, is not only one of the biggest hits by Thrash/Speed Metal titans Megadeth, but also one of the most touching, most recognizable and most powerful metal ballads of all time without a shadow of doubt. However, in 2016 À Tout Le Monde also became a synonym to a new beer by Unibroue, a brewery located in Chambly, Quebec, Canada that was started by Serge Racine and Quebec native André Dion in 1990, and known for some of the most admired craft beers in Quebec and in the rest of Canada such as Blanche de Chambly (Witbier), Don de Dieu (Tripel Wheat Ale), Maudite (Strong Red Ale), and Unibroue’s flagship beer La Fin du Monde (Tripel).

Born of the friendship between Unibroue’s brewmaster Jerry Vietz and the one and only Dave Mustaine, À Tout Le Monde is a flavorful Belgian-style, dry-hopped saison with hoppy and spicy notes, a clean, fresh taste and a crisp dry finish, dedicated to all fans of Heavy Metal and Belgian-style ales from around the world, using a dry hopping technique and, to date, having the lowest alcohol content of any Unibroue beer at 4.5%. Furthermore, À Tout Le Monde is not the first strike into the business of alcoholic beverages by “Megadave”, as back in 2014 he teamed up with Fallbrook Winery winemaker Vernon Kindred to create the Mustaine Vineyards. Although I haven’t tried any of the wines by the Mustaine Vineyards yet (and I do enjoy a good wine), as a beer guy I’m absolutely certain none of their wines can beat À Tout Le Monde, nor any of the several beers brewed by any other band in the world. And don’t worry, as I won’t be cheesy by jesting with you guys saying À Tout Le Monde is a beer “for everyone”. Or will I?

If you access the official Unibroue page for À Tout Le Monde, you’ll see their beer and food pairings list includes very distinct options such as  grilled steak, charcuteries, nachos, mussels and comté-style cooked pressed cheese, but to be honest I think you can pair this outstanding beer even with marshmallows, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a slice of watermelon so good and fresh it tastes. Displaying a yellow color, slightly golden with hazy appearance, and tasting slightly spicy and astringent with notes of tropical fruits and citrus like mango and litchi, À Tout Le Monde can usually be found in Canada as 341 ml or 750 ml bottles, as a 30,000 ml keg, or as draft beer, being sold at The Beer Store or at LCBO with prices going from CAD$ 14.95 for a pack of 6 bottles of 341 ml to CAD$ 222.15 for the keg. As a matter of fact, it actually took a long time for the closet The Beer Store to where I live to start selling À Tout Le Monde, which means if you do not live in Quebec your pursuit for À Tout Le Monde can get a little tedious, frustrating and time-consuming (unless you have some extra money to buy it directly online and deal with the delivery fees, of course).

The idea for the beer came about when Megadeth headlined the Festival d’été de Québec, playing their kick-ass Thrash and Speed Metal in front of eighty thousand people in 2015. “We had pulled up in the middle of the day and went to the hotel with this guy named Jerry Vietz from Unibroue. And we both had a lot of stuff in common and we hit it off right away. I was kind of sampling some of the different beverages that he had. And I told him, ‘I like this. I like this about this one. I like this about that one.’ And we made a second round, brought the liquid down to Nashville and tried it again. And I said, ‘Okay, so it’s getting really close. I like this about this, and I like this about that.’ And then I got to taste the final product for the first time in Orlando”, said Mustaine, who also had a few interesting words to say about the boom of music-inspired beers from other bands. “It’s funny, because I’ve spoken with a couple of beer magazines now — I didn’t know they had beer magazines, but evidently they do — and they said, ‘Have you tried the Iron Maiden beer?’ ‘Oh, yeah, of course.’ ‘Have you tried the AC/DC beer?’ ‘No. How is it?’ ‘Oh, it’s terrible.’ ‘Have you tried the Motörhead beer?’ ‘No. How is it?’ ‘Well, it’s okay.’ And they told me that Mastodon has a beer, I think, and then New Order has a beer too”, Mustaine said. “And it’s, like, okay, well, maybe these dudes got into it just to kind of slap their name on a can of beer or something like that. I did this because when we did the wine… In April of 2014, we made wine [to coincide with Mustaine’s performance with the San Diego Symphony], so that there was something really cool that would be like a social lubricant with everybody, but also be like an adhesive where everybody would come together with the two worlds colliding.”

Of course, as any other beer inspired or crafted by a Heavy Metal band, there are a lot of “extras” available for diehard fans of Megadeth who loved the beer like myself, some of those being free like the YouTube videos with Bernard Johnson, a Regional Sales Manager from Unibroue, talking about À Tout Le Monde, and Dave Mustaine himself talking about making his own beer and wishing us all Happy Holidays (in 2016, when the beer was launched); and if you have some spare cash to invest on some À Tout Le Monde merch you can go to the official Megadeth webstore and select whatever suits you best from the options available. I’ll personally save my money for the beer itself, buying at least the pack with 6 bottles whenever I find it here in Ontario or when I visit Quebec, and not only because I’m a longtime fan of the music by Dave Mustaine & Co., but because À Tout Le Monde is indeed a superb beer, tasting smooth and fresh without losing the core punch and energy of a good brew, just like its beyond-classic eponymous Heavy Metal ballad.

Beer details
Country: Canada
Brewer: Unibroue
Fermentation: Top
Style: Belgian Style Dry, Hopped Saison
Alcohol Content (ABV): 4.5%
Color: Yellow, slightly golden with hazy appearance
SRM: 5,5
Clarity: Slightly cloudy
Head: Egg whites
Bubbles: Fine
Effervescence: Medium and sustained
IBU: 22
Body: Medium
Aftertaste: Medium
Price: CAD$ 14.95 (6 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 26.95 (12 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 50.95 (24 × Bottle 341 ml), CAD$ 222.15 (1 × Keg 30000 ml)

Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Trooper Beer

An excellent choice for beer lovers, but not for heavy drinkers.

Rating4

IMG_0948I’ve been looking for the Trooper Beer here in Canada for weeks, since the band started advertising it everywhere, including that funny moment at Rock In Rio V where Bruce complained about the festival beer (Heineken) and said he had to take his own to Brazil. Well, yesterday I was finally able to taste it for the first time, and here is my review about it.

First of all, if you’re one of those headbangers that enjoy getting pissed drunk with the cheapest beer available, forget about Trooper. This is not a beer such as Coors Light, Moosehead or Rolling Rock: Trooper is an ale beer, bitterer and darker than any regular one, and it’s not recommended at all for a baseball game at the stadium or for getting drunk at the door of a venue before a Metal concert.

IMG_0954Instead, I would say Trooper is an excellent choice for dinner, especially if you’re having a juicy steak or a veal parmigiana, and also a very good option if you’re not a heavy drinker, but likes to have a beer or two at a pub with your friends while eating some chicken wings. Or maybe you just want to stay home and watch Maiden’s Rock In Rio III, Flight 666 or En Vivo! while enjoying a couple of Troopers! That’s an awesome option for a Friday night! Regarding the price, at least here in Ontario it is very reasonable if compared to the other options in the market: only $4.60 per 500mL bottle. It’s not as cheap as a 750mL can of Coors Light, of course, but as I said the idea here is not drinking too much, but enjoying the beer.

As I’m not a beer expert (yet), I decided to add to this post the information found at the back label of the Trooper Beer, which pretty much summarizes what this beer really is with some extra “marketing” details, of course:

IMG_0950“ONWARD, ONWARD
RODE THE 600…

The Charge of the Light Brigade, which inspired the Iron Maiden song The Trooper, took place at the Battle of Balaclava (1854) during the Crimean War when 600 British cavalry courageously charged the massed Russian artillery. This gallant but foolhardy assault resulted in a massive loss of life and came about due to a misunderstanding of an order given by the Commanding Officer, Lord Raglan.

Trooper is a premium British beer inspired by Iron Maiden and handcrafted at Robinsons brewery in Cheshire, UK. Being a real ale enthusiast, vocalist Bruce Dickinson has developed a beer which has true depth of character. Malt flavours and citric notes from a unique blend of Bobec, Goldings and Cascade hops dominate this deep golden ale with a subtle hint of lemon.”

IMG_0942If you search for the Trooper Beer on the LCBO website, you’ll find its profile page. However, not every LCBO store has it yet, so first of all you’ll need to do a quick research on their inventory position and then go buy it wherever it’s available. I unintentionally found it yesterday at the King & Spadina store (415 King Street West) while walking around Toronto, which means if you live near that area you can go there and grab yourself some Troopers today.

In short, Iron Maiden together with Robinsons brewery created a very good quality product not only for metalheads, but for anybody that enjoys a pint or two of a traditional British beer. It’s not the best beer in the world, but it’s the coolest one for sure. A beer dedicated to one the the top Heavy Metal classics of all time couldn’t be bad at all, don’t you agree? Or as Bruce would say, don’t waste your time searching for those wasted beers… Go get some Troopers instead!

Beer details
Type: Premium English bitter ale
Packaging: 500mL bottle
Alcohol content: 4.7% alc./vol.
Where to buy it: Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)
Price: 4.60 Canadian Dollars per bottle